‘Son Of Man’, ‘Pitiable Man’, ‘Rejected Man’ Equivalent Expressions in the Old Greek of Daniel -- By: Eugene E. Lemcio

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 56:1 (NA 2005)
Article: ‘Son Of Man’, ‘Pitiable Man’, ‘Rejected Man’ Equivalent Expressions in the Old Greek of Daniel
Author: Eugene E. Lemcio

‘Son Of Man’,
‘Pitiable Man’, ‘Rejected Man’
Equivalent Expressions in the Old Greek of Daniel1

Eugene E. Lemcio


Far from being a generalised synonym for ‘man’ or ‘human’, the phrase ‘son of man’ in the Old Greek of Daniel bears the sense of ‘frail’ or ‘vulnerable human’. This becomes apparent when the expression ‘son of man’ and the dynamics of chapter 7 are compared with the phrases ‘rejected man’, ‘son of man’, and ‘pitiable man’ in chapters 4, 8, and 10.

1. Introduction

It is my thesis that υἱος ἀνθρώπου, ἄνθρωπος ἐλεεινός, and ἐξουθενημένος ἄνθρωπος are equivalent expressions, appearing in four chapters whose contexts and internal dynamics share common elements and patterns. By this I mean that each of the three conveys the sense of persons experiencing the downside of human experience: its frailty, vulnerability, and unlikelihood. The translator of the Old Greek (OG), more than the originators of the Massoretic Text (MT) and Theodotion (T), stresses the theological point that it is to people in such circumstances that God grants political power and prophetic insight.


One of the by-products of this investigation is the conclusion that, in the OG of Daniel, υἱος ἀνθρώπου is not merely a synonym for ἄνθρωπος, as scholars assert across the board. Rather, it is an idiom of choice for conveying the specialized meaning of ‘frail human’ or ‘vulnerable human’. Although some have argued that ‘son of man’ in 7:13 refers to an angel2 , this is definitely not the case in 8:17. However, even if the former is an angelic figure, the question remains, what kind of human features did he have? A rough analogy might be drawn from the use of σάρξ and σῶμα. On some occasions, the two can function as synonyms (Job 41:14–15, Prov. 5:11). But in the expression, ‘all flesh [is as] grass’ (Isa. 40:6), it is the former rather than the latter that conveys the transient nature of human experience. Context per individual author (or translator) determines usage. Thus, I am not claiming that son of man must mean ‘frailt...

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